Interesting question on some Online homework.


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Deer Hunter
October 13, 2007, 03:07 AM
I was doing some online homework for my math class today (oops, it's overdue. I hate online homework. I did not learn on "ilrn", as the upper classmen say) and an interesting question came up. I'm working with probabilities and such. Here's the question.

"A poll was conducted among 250 residents of a certain city regarding tougher gun-control laws. The results of the poll are shown in the table.


Own Only a Handgun |Own Only a Rifle| |Own a Handgun and a Rifle| |Own Neither| |Total|
Favor Tougher Laws: 0 10 0 144 154
Oppose Tougher Laws: 57 5 24 0 86
No Opinion: 0 0 0 10 10
Total: 57 15 24 154 250

If one of the participants in this poll is selected at random, what is the probability that he or she favors tougher gun-control laws?"

Formatting got a bit sloppy on the cut-n-paste job. No fancy graph, sadly.

It interested me because the numbers were really sloppily thrown together. Now I understand this was a randomly generated question on a multiple-choice online homework assignment, but I just thought I'd share. It got my attention at 1 in the morning.

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230RN
October 13, 2007, 11:42 AM
Own Only a Handgun |Own Only a Rifle| |Own a Handgun and a Rifle| |Own Neither| |Total|
Favor Tougher Laws: 0 10 0 144 154
Oppose Tougher Laws: 57 5 24 0 86
No Opinion: 0 0 0 10 10
Total: 57 15 24 154 250

Hard to tell what's in each cell. I even tried pasting it to two word processors with and without word wrap and it didn't want to unwrap. (You might try copying the whole table as a document and uploading it as an attachment.)

However it looks like you've got a sample of each of two distinct populations: Owners/non-owners as separate from opinion-givers.

Offhand, I'd say P (favors tougher gun control) = (number of those who favor tough laws) / (total number who responded to the question of favoring-not-favoring-no opinion on gun control.)

I suspect the thrust of the question is how are you separating the variables of gun ownership as opposed to those offering an opinion-response.

It may just be a lousy question, too. I think maybe the raw data was collected with the intent of determining some correlation between the two variables.

Lousy questions occur, you know. I found one question on an exam that asked what was the boiling point of water at sea level: (A) 196 degrees, (B) 96 degrees (C) 373 degrees. (We had also been discussing the depression of boiling point with altitude with the example used of the boiling point at 5000 feet being about 196 degrees Fahrenheit.)

None of the answers were correct at sea level. Even the 373 "degrees" is wrong because one does not cite absolute temperatures as "degrees Kelvin" but simply as Kelvin. That is, 373 K, or, in speech, "three hundred and seventy three Kelvin" with no "degrees" included.

I therefore answered the fourth choice, (D) None of the above, and was marked wrong. The intended correct answer was C, with the teacher intending to test us on our knowledge of absolute temperatures.

Acrimony with the teacher ensued.

I won on appeal to the Department Chairperson.

I gots my principles, after all.

Whoops. My coffee is ready.

American_Pit_Bull
October 13, 2007, 11:51 AM
If one of the participants in this poll is selected at random, what is the probability that he or she favors tougher gun-control laws?"There is a 62% chance that the random participant will favor tougher gun control laws.

Blackbeard
October 13, 2007, 12:03 PM
Extra credit: What is the probablity that a random participant knows what the gun laws actually are?

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